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The Apiary in February

As we move into the longer daylight hours we can normally expect frost and warm sunny days so colonies can get out and about collecting nectar and pollen.

But Oh no! Warm temperatures linked to horrendous rain storms and gale force winds.

The picture of the toppled hive at an out apiary (above) was reported by someone ‘house sitting’ for the owners of the orchard. It was fortunate the colony appeared to have survived  clustering against the wet and cold, but were a little short of stores.

After rebuilding the hive and removing the supers, stored on top for the winter,  a good lump of Fondant was placed on the Queen Excluder above the cluster to see if that will get them through until spring arrives.

This month is when the populations in our hives drop to their lowest levels as the old winter bees die off and the Queen has not started laying in earnest to replace them with new workers.

It does not help that the changes in the weather “chills” a number of workers out and about collecting water or pollen.

Chilled Bees
Chilled Bees on the ground outside the hive

These bees I collected back up and poured back into the top of their hive, those who got chilled away from the hive have little or no chance of survival.

But on those few warm days we had this month  bees were out working snowdrops, crocus and prunus which were in full flower. Blackthorn and Hazel next.

Prunus in Full Flower
Snowdrops in full flower in front of the Hives

As the wet weather batters everybody, the small amount of pollen collected although essential to the well being of the colony, this is not the normal rapid flow we might expect.

Poor Pollen Loads
Poor Pollen Loads

The end of the month we had the expected night frosts on top of all the saturated ground, which is absolutely no good to man nor beast.

When checking your Apiary you will inevitably find a dead colony which has failed for one reason or another. I always seal the hive so they cannot be robbed out, spreading disease, and burn the frames the Bees have died upon.

The remaining frames, if young enough, will be recycled after treatment with Acetic Acid to kill any disease or spores. If not they also end up on the fire as little wax can be recovered from brood combs.

Burn those Brood Combs

March will be a better month as the  worker bees get out and about as the temperatures rise.

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